CLEVELAND - Early voting in Ohio leading up to the November election gets underway Wednesday morning at local board of elections across the state. Polls will be open for in-person early voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Oct. 26 with expanded hours leading up to election day from there.
If you are one of the many Ohio voters who have already requested a vote by mail ballot, they will be mailed out starting Wednesday as well. "We do get calls from people asking where their ballot is?" said Pat McDonald, Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. "But by law we can't send it out til 28 days before the election."
Early voting in Ohio is an off shoot of the problems that arose in the 2004 presidential election which cast a national spotlight on Cuyahoga County especially. One of the solutions was to ease congestion at the polls on election day by for the first time not only allowing people to vote early without an excuse but encourage voters to do so.
The practice changed the way candidates waged campaigns especially related to how and when they spend their media dollar to reach voters and while voting from home makes things easier for voters it also makes things easier for the candidates.
"Most campaigns now do what are called chasers where they send out information about their candidate the moment they find out from a Board of Elections that someone has requested an absentee ballot," said News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University.
"And you'll keep getting mailings until that ballot goes in and they see that you've already cast your vote." Requesting an absentee ballot also increases the likelihood that you get a door knock from canvassers pushing a particular candidate.
While Wednesday is the first day of early voting, you can request a vote by mail ballot up to within a few days of the election.